In any ordinary week, last Tuesday's story of the match up between the Saginaw Arthur Hill Lumberjacks and the Saginaw Buena Vista Knights would have been published much sooner. But as recruiting fans know, last week was far from ordinary. National signing day arrived last Wednesday, and rather than let the monster performances we witnessed get lost in the commotion, we delayed things a bit so none would miss what will surely be described as one of the most memorable games of the year.
The atmosphere in the Arthur Hill gymnasium was festive for the first-time match up between the two Saginaw teams. The home crowd had come out in force to support the Lumberjacks, but they were often rendered silent early on thanks to the play of Tory Jackson.
Jackson scored BV's first five points, and eight of their first eleven, (including two three pointers), to take a five point lead with 4:14 to go in the first. He made it clear through both his play and his emotional reactions that 'it was on.' Good friend Dar Tucker wanted to do the same. In what was the first of many basket exchanges, the high-flying sophomore scored four points on a 6-2 run that tied score at 19, one minute into the second quarter.
Jackson for 3!
Jackson came right back with an and-1 and a no look behind the back pass that led to a lay-up to ignite a 10-3 spurt that put his team up 29-22, but Tucker was not going to be outdone. The powerful wing player (who plays in the post for Arthur Hill) scored the Lumberjacks next ten points, highlighted by a two-handed slam over tha back of an unsuspecting BV player, and a three pointer that bounced high off of the heel of the rim before following through the net. His outburst helped the home team gain its first lead, (32-31), since the game's opening basket.
Jackson countered, hitting the next five points of the game (including another three pointer) to give the visiting Knights the lead, 36-34. BV maintained that margin down the stretch and went into the locker room up 39-37.
Coming out of the half, Jackson picked up right where he left off prior to the intermission. The 5-10 PG had a hand in the first 7 points, scoring three himself and dishing assists on the other two baskets to put BV up 46-39 at 5:05 in the third period.
Tucker was not able to counter much in the quarter, but his lone field goal in the period (a baby hook in the paint) capped off a 9-2 run that gave the Lumberjacks a 49-48 lead with 50 seconds left. Sensing his team needed him to step up again, Jackson responded with one of his many scintillating plays of the night.
After grabbing the inbounds pass, Jackson raced the ball up court. Arthur Hill had a double team waiting for the lighting quick guard at the halfcourt line, but Jackson did not hesitate. He picked up speed and used a beautiful behind the back dribble to split the two players before passing the ball off underneath for an easy bucket. The crowd gasped in disbelief regarding the stellar play, and barely had time to catch their collective breaths before of their own one-upped Jackson.
With just two seconds left on the clock, Arthur Hill's Brandon Bowen launched a triple from half court. The high arcing shot banged off of the backboard and through the net to put the home team up 52-50 heading into the fourth.
Jackson opened up the final period with another three-pointer to retake the lead. Arthur Hill fired back to gain a 57-55 advantage moments later, but Jackson's arsenal was not yet empty.
Jackson beat his man off the dribble from the wing and made it all the way to the basket… where two Arthur Hill players were waiting for him. Instead of pulling up, the diminutive guard attacked, leaping high into the air and drawing contact from both players. His progress toward the rim continued, and he went up and under both players before finishing the play off with a double clutch lay-up to tie the game. The gasps from the crowd were even louder that time, but Tucker was not going to let his summer running mate steal the game in HIS gym. He finished an Arthur Hill fast break on following possession to give the home team the lead again.
Everyone knew what was coming next but Arthur Hill could do little to stop it. Jackson got the ball in his hands again and went right back to work. In what looked to be a repeat of the previous play, Jackson knifed into traffic for a leaping double clutch basket that put BV up 60-59 with 4:30 left. Minutes later he extended the Knights lead to four (66-62) with another three-pointer, but the home team refused to die
A Dar Tucker lay-up, followed by a steal that lead to another bucket tied the score at 66. Arthur Hill's Greg Lawson was fouled in the act of shooting on that final lay-up but missed the and-1 free throw that would have won the game. And the two teams went into overtime tied at 66.
When the Lumberjacks opened the extra session with a 5-0 run, the game was seemingly over. Jackson tried his best to keep his team in it, nailing BV's only points in OT with his sixth triple, but the Knights just could not handle the full court pressure.
Dar Tucker put an exclamation point on the evening when he took off from just inside the free throw line for a jam that made the final score 78-70.
On the game Tucker led Arthur Hill with 33 points and 26 rebounds while Jackson led Buena Vista with 33 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. After taking a few days to shake off the extreme disappointment, Jackson spoke to GBW about the contest. "It was hard," Tory said of the match up. "It was a city game. I play with all of those guys during the summer, so now I have to hear their mouths the rest of the summer, but I think Dar played great."
More from Tory Jackson is on the way shortly.